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Vigneault Expecting 'Accountable' Group to Rebound

by Matthew Calamia / New York Rangers

Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault said he's expecting a much better effort from his team tonight when the Blueshirts host the Pacifici Division-leading San Jose Sharks at Madison Square Garden.

After beginning the season with three wins — two of which on the road — the Rangers have dropped three straight, including Sunday's 2-1 overtime defeat against the New Jersey Devils.

Vigneault said his team has been "a little off" since the get go, especially on offense.

"For whatever reason, as a group, Ds and forwards, we've been a little bit off in terms of getting in sync together," Vigneault said Monday morning at MSG. "Obviously, this whole group knows that it can play better and we're working at it. We're working at it when we're on the ice, we're working at it like we did this morning with appropriate meetings to get our game in order.

"This is a very accountable, very experienced group that is going to get better."

Through six games, Chris Kreider, Rick Nash and Derick Brassard have been held without goals at even strength. Vigneault, though, said Kreider and Nash have had their chances, which is a positive despite the lack of production. He said it's a game-by-game situation with those players.

"It's a good reflection of our team right now," Vigneault said. "We're just a little bit off, which obviously affects the way we play on the ice. The great thing about this game is we have another opportunity to get right back at it tonight to show what we can do against one of the best teams in the NHL."

The chance is most definitely there. Brassard said he doesn't believe the struggles have had to do with an overall effort, but rather a lack of urgency early in the season. He attributed it to just having to find the way the team has played over the last two seasons under Vigneault.

"We're still trying to figure it out, the way we were playing the last couple of years," Brassard said. "We added some players, some really good players, and we're still trying to figure it out, the way we want to play."

While the Rangers did walk away with two wins against Columbus and one in Chicago to open the season, Brassard said a lot of the credit fell on the shoulders of Henrik Lundqvist, who has been superb through six games.

With that said, Brassard did say the overall team game is not where he and the team know it needs to be.'

"We did win the games so we did some good stuff, we competed hard," Brassard said of the team's three victories. "We're just not fully there as a team. It's not like we'r eplaying poorly. We do some good things. We're just not where we set the bar the last couple of years."

While there is concern over any losing streak, no matter when it occurs or for how long, Lundqvist did look at the big picture.

"It's not a sprint here. There are a lot of games. It's a marathon," he said. "We talk about it a lot. You don't want to be too low when things aren't going the way you want. Like yesterday, we're really close. We're one shot away from winning the game, the puck hitting the cross bar a couple of times."

It's a balancing act, and one Lundqvist knows after 10 years in New York.

"You have to be careful there, not going into the next game tyring to do too much," he added. "We know our game plan. We just have to execute the right way. Everyone, starting with myself, you try and focus on your own game and try to do as good as you can to help the group turn this around."

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